Gaming’s Gateway Drugs: Ancient Edition

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We touched on the idea of generation-defining games not too long ago. While that list was about superb games that we’ll be talking about for years to come, those aren’t necessarily games that a novice gamer would try out before deciding gaming was something they wanted to continue doing.

So we got to thinking — what ARE those gateway games? Games that not only everyone enjoyed, but simple and rewarding enough for even the n00b-iest players to come back for more and make video games a part of their lifestyle.

Once we started brainstorming games, though, we realized that there are a metric crapton of players out there of different ages. From those old enough to buy an Atari 2600 with their own money to my 4-year-old nephew with his face buried in his new DS Lite, we’ve all had different experiences. And those different experiences are many.

That’s why we’re breaking this puppy into age brackets, and we’re starting with the old-timers. To be specific, we’re talking 26-years-plus. After all, where would we be without them?

Epic list article is go!


This is a pretty obvious entry, but we’d be remiss in our duties if we didn’t include it. After all, it was one of the very first video games to find its way into the mainstream.


The Virtua Tennis of its day

But you already know what Pong is. And even if you don’t, a single screenshot is all the explanation you’ll ever need. Instead, know that there were no less than three consoles released in the 1970s that played Pong and only Pong. That’s a hell of a lot of Pong.

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Space Invaders

OK, so this is another obvious choice. I apologize for my birthday in advance. Also again, this is a game that everyone knows and understands when they see it. While people might point to a newer game like Galaga, we’re not so sure it had the same long-term relevance. Not only were songs written about it, there are still t-shirts made about the game today (I own this one myself).

What’s that? You don’t believe us about the song? Well, here you go kiddo.

These are the things that happen when you find the same game at every arcade, pizza parlor, and bowling alley. Plus LSD.

Donkey Kong

It’s fun to spout fun trivia about this game – it was the first appearance of Mario, then known as Jumpman, and it’s said that the DK from this game went on to become the Cranky Kong seen in the Donkey Kong Country games years later.

Readers Comments (9)

  1. I’m a newer gamer. I started playing PC during the fourth gen, but didn’t get a console until the fifth gen. I was an N64 guy then. I still love the classics, though, especially the Zelda games. My favorite is A Link to the Past for the SNES.

  2. I started out playing NES and SNES. I’m dissapointed with the new gamers, because they probably haven’t experienced “true gaming”.

    They get too excited by saying “I finished Halo 3 on legendary mode”. Well, I could beat Super Contra on hard mode when I was five, how about that?.

    I guess my point is: being a gamer and how each person sees himself as a “gamer” totally depends on the generation one started playing. So, I would never ever call someone who plays iphone games a true gamer.

    Anyway, pretty much any snes game would be an excellent entry point to gaming.

  3. I started out with Intellivision, still love Night Stalker. Later on though, Megaman 2 and Final Fantasy 6 would further inspire my gaming needs.

  4. TraumaticTighearnan September 26, 2010 @ 12:55

    You just named every loved retro game there is.. I was expecting games from this generation.. =P

  5. @Traumatic — This is part one of a three-part feature. The newest games will be in the last part. 😉

  6. I miss those games. Especially the Atari games. I still have my NES though and I still play with it. I still haven’t been able to beat Mike Tyson. 18 freaking years and I still get my behind handed to me by a pixelated Mike Tyson. Also, my version of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out is the original version.

    I still play all my favorite games. Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, Batman, Super Mario bros.1&3, Castlevania 1&3, Double Dragon II, Blaster Master, Punch Out, Battletoads, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck and many others.

  7. @Dreamer_Lion
    I agree with you completely. The thing is that games now are just way too easy (seriously, even on “hard” mode). Also, game developers put so many training wheels like regenerating health, auto saves, checkpoints after every step you take etc. The only game that could compare to old games is Demon’s Souls (my personal favorite game this generation). Before, it was obligated to not get hit (especially the “1 hit and you’re dead” types of games) and not waste any of your lives. Now its just spawn at the last checkpoint after losing.

  8. Sega Master as a gateway drug… ’nuff said.

  9. TraumaticTighearnan September 27, 2010 @ 11:25

    @Joe Ahh, I see.. Apologies xD

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